Concordia Wisconsin Edges Eureka Late, 41-32

Photo by Brandon Sipes.
Photo by Brandon Sipes.

EUREKA – Concordia Wisconsin edged the Eureka football team in a 41-32 win over the Red Devils at McKinzie Field on Saturday.

The home team was in position to come from behind late, but the Falcons closed the door with a pair of interceptions in the final 62 seconds to seal the victory.

Eureka quarterback Lukas Tinkham's (Abingdon, Ill./Abingdon-Avon) 12-yard touchdown pass to Malek Folston (Cocoa, Fla./Vera) with 4:18 made it 34-32. A successful two-point conversion with would have tied the game, but the Red Devils were called for a false start and then were unable to convert it.

The Red Devils' defense forced Concordia Wisconsin to punt on the next possession, but the Falcons were able to run the clock down to 1:09 before the Red Devils took over.

Then, Concordia Wisconsin's Josiah McDermit intercepted Tinkham on first down on the Eureka 20 and ran it back for a touchdown to make it 28-20 following the extra point. On Eureka's last chance, McDermit came up big for the Falcons again, recording the game-sealing interception.

Eureka kept itself in the game with a formidable Falcons squad by relying on it running game. Freshman running back Lamont Hill Jr. (East Moline, Ill./United Township) led the way with a career-high 156 rushing yards on 20 carries and a touchdown before exiting the game with an injury in the third quarter.

The Red Devils had to fight their way back from down 14 points early.

Senior Nehemiah Butler (Elmwood, Ill./Elmwood) was another key back in the Red Devils' backfield. The senior tallied 104 rushing yards on 23 carries in his first game at running back. It was the first time Eureka has had two players record 100-plus rushing yards since Sept. 18, 2018, when Le'Anthony Reasnover (282) and Joe Hughes (106) did it.

The Falcons put the Red Devils in a 14-0 hole early, but the Red Devils rebounded with a 20-point second quarter.

Hill scored on a 2-yard run early in the second, capping a 14-play. 75-yard drive. Then, when Steven Bartkus (Seneca, Ill./Seneca) kicked it off, Kerensky Rhoden (Richton Park, Ill./Rich Township) forced a fumble and Malakai Jenkins (Chicago, Ill./Collins) recovered it for the maroon and gold.

That set up a short field for Eureka to set up a five-play, 27-yard scoring drive. It ended with a five-yard touchdown pass from Tinkham to Ben Bernabei (Peru, Ill./St. Bede Academy) that made it 14-13. A fumbled snap prevented EC from tying it up there.

Concordia Wisconsin answered with a 71-yard touchdown pass from James Linns to Samuel Campbell on the next drive to make it 21-13, but on the team's next one, Brendan Durr (Washington, Ill./Washington) blocked the Falcons' punt and Jack Arnett (Princeton, Ill./Princeton) picked it up and scored again to make it a one-point game before halftime.

The Falcons scored a touchdown shortly after an interception early in the third and kicker Andre Casas converted a 38-yard field goal midway through to make it 32-20.

Eureka responded by piecing together a nine-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a three-yard touchdown run by Butler for his first career touchdown. That made it 31-26 with 2:16 left in the third.

 

Concordia Wisconsin extended the lead to eight with another 38-yard field goal by Casas with 10 minutes play. That was the last score until Folston's momentous touchdown made it a two-point game.

Defensively, Durr posted a team-high eight total tackles. Jones and Joe Jackson (Peoria, Ill./Richwoods) each had six. Jackson also had a forced fumble and a pass breakup in the secondary.

Mason Diederich (Washington, Ill./Washington), Eric Martinez (Boynton Beach, Fla./Santaluces), Deondre Guyton (West Palm Beach, Fla./Santaluces) and Donovan Hathaway (East Peoria, Ill./East Peoria) each contributed 1/2 sack.

Martinez finished with 1 1/2 tackles for loss and Colton Walsberg (Pontiac, Ill./Pontiac) had one as well.

The Red Devils (2-4, 2-2 Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference) will next take on NACC defending champion Aurora (3-2, 3-0 NACC) on the road at 6 p.m.